Stories
25 Nov 2022

Originally from the south of Senegal, Samba D. lived in a family compound with his parents and siblings. He helplessly witnessed poverty and lack of means becoming more and more prevalent. As the eldest child, he had the obligation to provide support for his family. Samba was faced with a terrible inner dilemma: to continue to work as a metal welder, which he loved, but which brought him little income, or to attempt the journey to Europe to provide financial stability for his family. Convinced that a better future was possible for him and those he loved, Samba decided to go to Europe.

He travelled through Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger and was horrified by the conditions imposed by the smugglers in Agadez. He embarked for Libya and struggled for five days against lack of food, thirst, heat, fear, and fatigue. During a police check in Niger, Samba was mistreated and taken to prison for several days. When he was released, he spent a fortnight in paying homes where conditions were deleterious. Water and food are in short supply and Samba can only eat once a day.

Determined to reach Libya, Samba paid 500,000 FCFA to smugglers. This final attempt was a major change in his painful migration journey. For seven days in the middle of the desert, Samba was curled up in the back of a pick-up truck with 30 other people. The conditions of this “journey” were simply inhuman. Upon arrival at the Libyan border, Samba realized that he had narrowly escaped death and decided to return to Senegal. He confided in a friend who recommended him to register with the IOM base in Agadez for assistance. IOM immediately provided him with food, accommodation, and his return home.

When he arrived in Senegal, Samba was welcomed by IOM staff in Tambacounda. His reintegration started with counselling sessions to design his reintegration project.

Very quickly, Samba wanted to resume his job as a welder. In fact, since his teenage years, Samba has wanted to create a real furniture production unit. With the support of IOM, the young man enhanced his project through a new approach. He decided to launch himself into the production of agricultural equipment. This is a particularly promising field, as agriculture plays a major role in the Senegalese economy. IOM quickly provided him with equipment and capacity building in metal welding.

Today, Samba manufactures a variety of agricultural equipment: seeders, hoes for weeding, and peanut threshers for extracting oil from peanut seeds. 

Samba doing maintenance on a millet mill.

His business is successful. The family man can now provide for his family. This situation is therefore extremely rewarding, as his work finally allows him to combine passion and financial security. Samba has regained a real sense of control over his life. Every day, he proudly goes to his workshop to design and sell his agricultural equipment.

This sociable young man never fails to greet his neighbours and give his customers a warm welcome. Communication and relationship building are the cornerstones of his business strategy. The entrepreneur is fully aware of the need to build customer loyalty to sustain his business. Part of his day is also devoted to designing agricultural equipment for young people whom he trains as welders. This role is particularly important to him because he wants to pass on his passion and know-how to contribute to the economic development of his community. Moreover, Samba plans to expand his business by recruiting new welders to increase his production capacity and develop even more innovative agricultural equipment.

Now that he regains confidence in himself and in the future, Samba wants to promote his business through social networks, the production of business cards and flyers. In a bid to increase visibility of his work, he also plans to take part in fairs and exhibitions in the coming months.

* To protect the identity of the persons mentioned, pseudonyms are used.

This article was written by Ousmane Diallo, Field Facilitator in Senegal.